Category Archives: Swimming

New Year, New Training!

We are now 12 days into the new year and I must say, it’s already off to a better start than 2014. Life is so much more enjoyable without divorce drama and a Polar Vortex to contend with. The short time I’ve been here in 2015 has mainly been spent working toward my two main goals this year: Swimming an open-water 5K and PRing the shit out of a Spring marathon, whether it be the Flying Pig or a different, local, race I may or may not register for that takes place at the end of March (*shifty-eyed glance*).

I’ll admit, I’ve been a terrible slacker on my long runs lately. I really have no valid excuse other than “I don’t feel like it.” I have a great guy and fluffy cat at home, making it way to cozy and difficult to take a three-hour run on a Saturday morning. However, now that I have that “sub 4-hour marathon” itch again, I’ll be forcing myself out the door more from now on. You don’t get fast eating caramel corn and perusing Twitter all morning long.

Still beats the treadmill.

Whatever it takes

One area where I have not been slacking is swimming. I logged over four miles of swimming last week, more than I swam in the entire month of December. I really enjoy my swim workouts. I feel my kick getting stronger and my stroke getting more efficient, even though I’m still getting passed by large old men on the regular. Oh well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I ordered some new goodies on clearance from SwimOutlet.com to reward my new swimming obsession, which included a new pink bathing suit and swim cap. Well, the swim cap already has a hole in it and the suit is cut high on the hips and makes my butt look like biscuit dough exploding out of the canister. Not exactly the motivation I was looking for.

Speaking of my exploding butt, I’ve decided to make a really big concerted effort to cut out the junk. Yesterday at the store I bought a bunch of power greens, berries, lean chicken, sweet potatoes, and other things that I usually buy and throw away after they’ve gone rotten in the fridge. But not this time! I have a new pink bathing suit that I need to fit into (and am too lazy to return)! More dinners at home will be the next step, which is easier when you have a boyfriend who makes amazing homemade chicken noodle soup.

More long runs. More swimming progress. Don’t eat crap. Easier said than done. I get lots of inspiration reading the training plans and progress of others and really enjoy all of your blogs. Hopefully you all can do the same reading my incoherent ramblings. Even if you aren’t inspired, there’s a chance I’ll post a picture of my cat every once in a while.

Thanks for reading!

 

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2014 Year in Review: Numbers and Math and a Preview of 2015

My father is a numbers guy and that has always bugged me. Whenever I mention a social gathering/race/whatever I’ve just attended, his first question is always “How many people were there?” When I point out that sorry, I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be counting, he starts throwing out estimates. “Were there about 20? More than 30?” It gets on my nerves for the simple fact that my brain isn’t wired that way. Numbers are my enemy. I’m a known generous tipper because of my inability to do simple math in my head. I would suck on the Price is Right because fuck if I know what a broom is supposed to cost. The only time I obsess about numbers, however, is in relation to my training. Here is what my 2014 looked like in numbers. My dad would be proud.

In 2014 I completed 2,198 miles:

I ran 1,794 miles

I biked 375 mile

I swam 28 miles

I ran 2 marathons with a PR of 4:29:10 (which included at least 5 potty breaks)

I ran these marathons in 2 new states (scratch Utah and Indiana off the long list!)

I ran 6 half marathons with a PR of 1:50:10

I ran 3 of those halfs as a pace group leader

I ran 1 half marathon through 2 countries (I heart you Detroit International Half Marathon)

I finished 1 half marathon holding the hand of the man I love

I ran 6 5Ks with a PR of 23:47

I entered 3 sprint triathlons and successfully completed 1 (damned open water anxiety)

I missed out on 3 races I registered for due to being hit by 1 car

I peed in the woods 2 times

I pooped my pants 1 time

And on that final (brown) note, I will end the data. I’m very proud of my accomplishments in 2014, even though it ended on a frustrating note with inexplicably slower speeds, including a 10K I ran in 1:01. Ouch. I’ve been going out for shorter runs lately and trying to really push myself and I’m happy to say there is still some speed hidden inside of me, I just have to work for it.

Though I’m already registered for two marathons in 2015, including the Skyline Chili 4-Way at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati (that’s a 5K, 10K, and full marathon all in one weekend), my main goal is to run less in the coming year. I feel like a lot of my training runs lately have been for the wrong reasons, whether to prove that I’m tough or to be like the cool kids who run 50+ miles a week. Running less will also give me time to swim more, which will help me achieve my main goal of 2015: swim an open water 5K. Right now the idea sounds ridiculous and I’ve been afraid of telling people for fear of being laughed out of the room. Really? The same girl who couldn’t finish 750 meters in a sprint triathlon is going to finish 5,000?! What can I say, I love an impossible challenge (unless it involves math). I love how strong swimming makes me feel and though I have a long way to go, I’m willing to put in the effort. I see many more group swims with the FAST Masters Swimmers in the coming months.

The past year was thrilling and difficult and exciting and terrifying and shitty and wonderful and I can’t wait for the adventures and life experiences the new year brings.

 

 

 

 

 

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MY HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW POST, BRACE YOURSELVES!!!!!!!

Oh, hey there! My it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this thing. I’ve been BOMBARDED with requests to update my thousands upon thousands of readers with an update of my activities, and I’ve never been one to disappoint. So get yourself a snack and a beer and get settled while you read back on some of the exciting things I accomplished this past summer/fall:

1) I got hit by a car! Okay, this isn’t necessarily an accomplishment, but anytime you collide with heavy machinery it definitely makes the memory bank. One August morning I was out for a training run and crossed an intersection at the “walk” signal. Glancing over my left shoulder, I didn’t see any drivers turning right into the intersection. Unfortunately, a black SUV was turning from the far right turn lane and hit me with their front passenger mirror and front end. They also drove off, bastard! Anyway, I was lucky to walk away relatively unharmed. I sustained a bruised calf muscle and tendonitis in my left foot that took me out of the running game for nearly a month.

While I’m totally healed by now, my speed and endurance have not returned. At all. In fact, I’m practically back to the speeds I was hitting my first year running. It’s been humbling for sure, and a bit disconcerting. Running feels extra difficult lately. I’ve scheduled a doctor’s appointment to rule out any vitamin deficiencies, or cancer or AIDS or whatever.

2) I ran my fifth marathon in my fourth state! MEDALS AND RUNNING ALL THE STATES!!! I knocked Indiana off my list by running the Indianapolis Monumental on November 1st. I had no great expectations for this run. My lack of long runs due to my accident and slowing speeds made me adopt a “fuck it!” attitude. I knew I could finish, and that’s all I expected.

What I didn’t expect was how much fun I’d have. Indianapolis is a fun town- clean, safe, and full of bars and good eats. The architecture was also stunning. I made this trip with my friend and running-buddy extraordinaire, Mary Beth. After our respective races we ate and drank away the soreness.
Oh, and for the record, I finished in 5:02:06. Blaaaah. Whatever, I got my medal bitches!

3) I finished a triathlon without freaking out in the water! By far my proudest accomplishment this summer. On September 14th I completed the Holly Recreation Area sprint triathlon, held by Tri To Finish. It was one of the first chilly mornings of the fall and temps were in the low 40s. The scenery was pretty and serene and helped calm my out of control swimming nerves. I finished the swim, slowly but surely, and proceeded to one of the hilliest bike courses I’ve ever experienced. In fact, I saw many an athlete walk their expensive tri bikes up the relentless hills.

I, however, stayed on my 1,000-ton road bike and never walked. I ran the 5K with no feeling in my quads and crossed that finish line with immense pride. I did it! Finally a successful sprint triathlon in 2014! I fell in love with Tri To Finish events so much after this race that I entered their contest to be a sponsored team member in 2015. What does that mean? I have no idea! But they claim they pick “heart over speed”, so thank God for that. I submitted my pitch yesterday. Fingers and toes crossed!

4) I paced more races! Along with my Your Pace or Mine buddies, I’ve been fortunate to pace two half marathons this fall- The Brooksie Way and the Clarkston Backroads. What’s better than running a fall half marathon? Running for free and inspiring other runners, of course! I absolutely love pacing and can’t wait for more opportunities. There’s even been talks of YPOM being asked to pace the Charlevoix Half Marathon, which all my millions of readers will recognize as my favorite half marathon EVER.

So what’s next? I’m currently training for the Rock N’ Roll New Orleans Marathon on January 25th. My super-awesome-boyfriend Shawn will be running with me, although much faster and further ahead of me I’m sure. Jerk. Mary Beth and some wild YPOMers will be joining the fun as well. I would love a PR, no matter how small. In the meantime I’m cleaning up my diet (haha not really), doing more speedwork, and waiting to hear what the doctor tells me in regards to my recent sluggishness. I’ve also been hitting up the pool more often in hopes of an epic and wildly stupid goal I have for next summer…you’ll have to stay tuned.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your tips for getting over a running slump below!*

*Besides rest, because that would just be silly.

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Fighting the Fat Kid

One of the more embarrassing moments of my childhood was from my fourth grade gym class. It was the mile run day for the President’s Challenge, that horrible week during the year when your fitness was measured and I of course came up short in everything. As I recall I was already 110 pounds at age 10 and my idea of fitness was running to the cupboard to sneak a few Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies before dinner. The one area of the President’s Challenge where I excelled was the sit-and-reach, which measured flexibility. I was always number one in my class, the only advantage of being blessed with short legs and a long torso. Enough of what I was good at, now on to the cringe-inducing mile run…

The mile run was eight laps around a spray-painted loop in a field behind our school. Granted, it’s not like we had Nike technical apparel to change in to. I was most likely running in some uncomfortable skirt and sweater that my mother picked out for me. Anyway, fat kids in skirts don’t run fast. In fact, I came in dead last out of my entire class. I was so slow that everyone was done while I was finishing my final lap. Imagine being a fat kid with a perm (thanks, mom!) and having all your classmates stare at you as you huff-and-puff. To add insult to injury, my shoe fell off as I rounded the final corner. To this day I can still see the 25+ faces of annoyed school children watching me hop on one foot to my tear-filled finish.

Fast forward 21 years to last Saturday. I was attempting my second sprint triathlon in Lexington, Michigan. I hadn’t done any real training and the last time I swam was at my last sprint tri in September of last year. For some reason the waters of Lake Huron terrified me and I immediatley panicked when the gun went off. I couldn’t control my breathing, ended up swallowing a bunch of water, and threw up on myself. Lovely. Luckily the rescue kayaks had swimming noodles for idiots like myself. I took one after a few feet of flopping around erraticaly. While I wasn’t dead last to get out of the water, I was surely the only person under the age of 50 with a security blanket noodle. My ego was decimated. As I ran back to the transition area, I couldn’t help but recall my earlier embarrassing moment in athletic acheivement.

Every day of my life is a struggle against Fat Kid Laura. In my late teens to mid twenties I fought back in unhealthy ways by starving myself and smoking and eventually developing bulimia. At the age of 27 I started training for my first half marathon and finally found out that I was a decent runner after all. I fought against Fat Kid Laura by training and enjoying races, and every once in a while winning my age group. Running has given me more self-esteem than any other aspect of my life. However, there are moments like the Lexington disaster when Fat Kid Laura comes back in full force to destroy my confidence.

It’s easy for me to not feel good enough. I see girls with nice boobs and I feel inadequate. I see girls with good careers and feel I have nothing to offer. I struggle with the math while studying for my Series 7 and I feel stupid. These feelings can utterly consume me if I don’t fight back. So I failed my swim portion miserably in Lexington. I’m not throwing in the towel and letting Fat Kid Laura win this round. I am determined to let Kick Ass Adult Laura reign victorious. On Monday I participated in a tri training group and I even signed up for private swim lessons to improve my technique and efficiency. A bit extreme maybe, but Fat Kid Laura is a tough bitch to beat.

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Things are Going Swimmingly

When I was in the sixth grade I joined a swim team, the Troy Area Gators (or TAG). It wasn’t a school team and was very informal; we practiced several nights a week but competing at meets was optional. I, of course, having had a deadly fear of losing and making a fool of myself (still do), never attended a meet. However, joining this fun crew of swimmers further cemented my love of being in the water. My biggest accomplishment that year was completing a Swim-a-Thon, or 100 laps. My dad still talks about that day with pride as though I swam the English Channel.

Now, 18 years later (fuck!), my 30-year-old self has registered for my first sprint distance triathlon, despite my small bank account and the outrageous costs of doing so. I say “outrageous” costs only because I previously had no bike, tri suit, wet suit, or anything tri-related but a pair of running shoes. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to 12-year-old Laura for growing up to be so poor. I’m sorry your plans to grow up and marry Noel Gallagher never came to fruition.

After I signed up for my triathlon, I decided to brush up on my swimming skills. I found (cheap) private lessons offered by a swim teacher at a local high school. At my first class, my teacher asked me to do one lap freestyle to see what she was working with. I didn’t even go two feet without flipping over on my back, gasping for air. It didn’t help my ego that children were effortlessly butterfly stroking in the lanes next to me. Clearly I needed a lot of work.

It’s now been three weeks, and though I’m no freestylin’ fool in the pool yet, I’m getting there. Every class is a mix of lap swimming and strength/endurance building drills. I’ve been introduced to fun new toys, like the pull buoy, hand paddles, and flippers. It’s a tough workout, and more importantly, fun as hell.

Did I really need to take swimming classes in order to swim 500 meters in a sprint tri? Not at all. I guess adult Laura has been looking for an excuse for a long time to get her butt back into the pool. Sadly, the Looney Tunes lap suit she used to wear is long gone, but her love of the water still remains.

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